Crafting Play: Little Big Planet


  • Emma Westecott Simon Fraser University


In the contemporary era of Web 2.0, high-tech consumer culture is increasingly engaged in the production of ‘user-generated content’ (UGC) for digital multicast. The tension between global homogeneity and the potential of technology to support multiple voices, histories and viewpoints is of central interest. The new DIY craft movement is successfully adopting Internet technologies to go straight to market as the digital generation increasingly engages in analogue craft practice. The swell of interest in craft values, both in objects and in hands-on feel and process exhibited in blogs such as Wonderland and distribution aggregators like Etsy, offers a productive frame that connects the digital and the analogue. Whether this reveals any anxiety about the intangibility of the digital or points to an increased creativity inspired by UGC remains open to question. The ‘feedback loop’ (to use Schechner’s (2002) term for the connection between an individual’s behavior and what they observe on street, stage and screen) between digital and real world practice, although far from literal, provides a frame for the dialogue between game form and culture at large. This paper teases out aspects of this feedback loop using examples from Sony’s PS3 series Little Big Planet (2008). The argument presented here does not deal with narratological or ludic structures and only tips its hat at the much broader field of fan culture but foregrounds context, style and characterization in its approach to analysis. The rationale for this approach is two-fold; first through the weight Media Molecule, developers of the game, give to visual communication and secondly through the prioritization of the invitation to create over and above the provision of a full triple-A title more typical of a console launch game.